Benefits of Shea Butter
Shea Butter has been used for centuries. It’s an ancient ingredient known for its ability to hydrate and moisturize the skin. It’s been used by the liked of Cleopatra and travelers to Africa used to write letters home about shea butter’s importance in the local culture’s daily life.
And since then, shea butter has been said to be a cure-all for everything from skin inflammation to anti-aging. But what does it actually do? What is it that makes shea butter so special and how does it benefit the skin? Let’s take a look.
What is Shea Butter?
Shea butter is actually the fat that is extracted from the nuts of the shea tree. These typically grow in West Africa, which is where most of the shea butter you purchase in the store comes from. It is an ivory-colored cream that is easily spread over the skin and absorbs quickly. The high concentrations of fatty acids and vitamins are what make shea butter so popular in skincare ingredients that are moisturizing. Shea butter also touts some pretty impressive anti-inflammatory and healing properties too.
Shea Butter is Healing
One of the benefits of shea butter is that it has some seriously impressive healing abilities. A Swedish study conducted just how effective it was at healing the skin. Participants' arms were washed in water containing ethanol, and researchers found that shea butter was able to help the skin totally recover from TEWL (Transepidermal water loss) within two hours. After three to four hours, it improved skin barrier. And another study demonstrated that shea butter worked as an emollient for eczema. Using a scale from zero to five — zero denoting clear and five denoting very severe disease — shea butter took a three down to a one, while Vaseline only took a three down to a two.
In another study, participants were asked to apply either 15% or pure shea butter. About 75% reported that their skin felt noticeably smoother and had significantly reduced wrinkles. Seventy percent of patients reported healing for scars, hand dermatitis, and sunburns.
Shea Butter is Moisturizing
Shea butter is best known for its ability to moisturize the skin. That is due to the fatty acid compounds found in shea butter which include linoleic, oleic, stearic, and palmitic acids. When applied topically, these compounds are quickly absorbed into your skin and act as a “refatting” agent to restore lipids and create moisture. This also helps to restore the skin barrier and hold moisture in which, in turn, reduces your risk of dryness in the future.
In one study, a cream that contained 5% shea and one that was a placebo cream were applied to volunteer’s forearms. The moisturizing effects of shea peaked at one hour but continued for eight hours.
Shea Butter is Anti-inflammatory, Antibacterial, and Anti-fungal
The esters found in shea butter have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties.
According to Healthline “When applied to the skin, shea triggers cytokines and other inflammatory cells to slow their production. This may help minimize irritation caused by environmental factors, such as dry weather, as well as inflammatory skin conditions, such as eczema.”
A 2012 study concluded that oral doses of shea bark extract may lead to decreased antimicrobial activity in animals. This could indicate that it has the same antibacterial benefits for humans.
And shea butter also happens to be a powerful ingredient in fighting skin infections that are caused by fungi. It will not be able to treat every single kind of fungal infection, but it does have the ability to kill spores of the fungi that cause ringworm and athlete’s foot.
Shea butter has all the great skin benefits. It is commonly used as one of the emollient base in natural, herbal skincare cream and ointment. If you are looking to add a little moisture into your routine, give shea butter a try!
You can find shea butter in our Herbal Rescue Balm. The Herbal Rescue Balm was created after 3+ years of extensive research by a team of renowned dermatologists and herbalists, who combined their decades of clinical and research experiences from centuries of Eastern herbal tradition and the rigor of Western science. This special skincare formulation was awarded the prestigious 2017 Good Housekeeping Seal and won the American Dream Initiative Contest on HSN in 2017. It’s great for sensitive skin and contains a proprietary blend of natural herbs with anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, natural oils, vitamin E, shea butter and ceramides.
Dr. Wang Herbal Skincare is a family business started by Steven Wang, MD, and Gui Wang, LAc. Our co-founders have been working together for over two decades to offer holistic, innovative, and effective skincare products.
We are guided by three primary principles: formulate skincare products with proven efficacy to promote skin health, harness the power of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and utilize the latest modern medical breakthroughs.